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Google Ads Introduces Three New Bidding Strategies

google-ads

by Matt Southern

Google has introduced three new bidding strategies for Google Ads advertisers that offer more flexibility than Smart Bidding.

Over 70% of Google Ads advertisers are now utilizing some form of automated bidding, including Smart Bidding.

While users are satisfied with Google’s automated bidding solutions, they’ve expressed a need for more customizations.

In response, Google has introduced these three new bidding innovations.

Campaign-level conversion settings
Advertisers will be able to set conversion goals at the campaign level.

Previously, advertisers were limited to set conversion goals at the account level. That meant all campaigns within the account would have the same conversion goals.

Now, advertisers can map relevant conversion goals at the campaign level. Google notes that this will be especially useful for accounts that have clearly differentiated campaign goals.

Seasonality adjustments
Advertisers have been asking for more control with regards to seasonality beyond what is offered by smart bidding.

Specifically, advertisers need controls to account for ad hoc events like one-time promotions. So Google Ads is introducing seasonality adjustments.

One way seasonality adjustments could be used is to schedule an adjustment for periods of time when conversion rates are expected to spike.

Maximize conversion value
Maximize conversion value is a new bidding strategy that allows advertisers to optimize for the most conversion value within a specified budget.

Until now, bidding strategies around conversion have been more focused on efficiency.

Value rules
Lastly, in the coming months, Google Ads will be rolling out value rules which let advertisers differentiate conversion values based on characteristics like location, device, and audience.

With value rules, advertisers can customize conversion values so they align more closely with business goals.

Look Out for These 5 Signs of Black Hat SEO

black hat seo
Black hat SEO techniques will hurt your rankings and your business. Here’s how to spot them.
Black hat SEO refers to unethical practices to help a website rank higher in Google. Often times, a website doesn’t even know it’s suffering from black hat search engine optimization — and being penalized for it.

Though black hat can temporarily help a website rank higher in Google, search engines will ultimately demote it for bad practice. You need to know how to identify black hat SEO techniques. Here are five signs to look for in your website and others.


by Scott McGovern
CONTRIBUTOR
Founder of crypto site Blocklr & Growth Nuts, an organic growth co.
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


What Is Black Hat SEO?

SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the process of designing a website to rank higher in search engines like Google, Amazon or the App store. It’s an innovative way to “optimize” content, whether you’re a media company or an online retailer, to drive traffic organically instead of paying steep advertising fees.

There are two main kinds of search engine optimization: white hat and black hat SEO. White hat websites use legitimate techniques to rank for keywords that are relevant to its content. Black hat content is geared towards search engines, not humans. This means misleading both the reader and the algorithms.

You can’t afford the stigma of black hat SEO.

There are two big reasons why you should avoid deceptively optimizing your website. First, it creates a terrible user experience. Ever clicked on a website and found that the content mismatches the headline you read in Google? This does not foster long-term business growth, never mind the fact that it’s unethical.

Second, search engines will demote your website, which will tank your traffic. A decade ago, most search engine optimization was of this unethical kind because it’s easier than staying up to date on the top SEO marketing trends of 2019. Google and other search engines now have sophisticated algorithms for uncovering black hat SEO, so the danger of deceptively optimizing your website far outweigh the benefits.

Here are the most common black hat SEO techniques you should look for.

Paid links

Link popularity is one of the ways that Google ranks websites. The more websites link to yours, and the better the domain authority of those websites, the more authoritative Google will consider you to be.

According to Google’s own definition, a paid link is a link you bought with money or goods. Today, Google devotes significant resources to shutting down link farms and paid links but you don’t need SEO tools to determine if a website is buying links.

First, look at the “anchor text,” which is the wording that is hyperlinked. If the text seems random with no connection to the link (or apparent use for it), it could be bought. Next, consider the number of links on a page. If a page is full of randomly linked text, they’re most likely paid links.

For a more granular search, there are SEO tools for spotting paid links. The best SEO tools to help you rank higher in Google will create a full link profile for your website or others. Among other things, this can tell you how many back links a website has and where those back links are coming from.

Typically, people buy links in bulk. If you see that a website has a laundry list of back links coming from blogs or other sites with very little authority, chances are that at least some of them are bought.

Related: 5 Red Flags That Can Destroy Your Google Ranking

Keyword Stuffing

“Keyword stuffing” is when a keyword appears on a website an inordinate number of times in order to have it rank higher in Google search. It’s one of the most common black hat SEO techniques. Ever read a keyword or phrase out of context or unnaturally phrased? This could be keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing can be tough to identify because Google regularly changes its definition of what percentage of text should incorporate your keyword. The best way to identify keyword stuffing is to look for it in key places like the title, meta description and introduction. Does a keyword appear somewhere where it’s seemingly irrelevant? Is it used an unnatural number of times?

The best way to avoid keyword stuffing is to be intuitive about it: If you think you’re using your keyword too many times, you’re probably right. Deciding the optimum keyword strategy is also something to discuss with your SEO analyst before choosing your next SEO firm.

Related: 5 Tips for Choosing Your Next SEO Firm

Hidden Links

Hidden links are less common than they once were but you’ll still run into this type of black hat SEO from time to time. Hidden links are exactly what they sound like: They’re links that the user typically does not see. However, search engine spiders still take them into account when determining a website’s ranking.

Google’s Webmaster guidelines specifically outlaws:

  1. Placing text behind an image
  2. Off-screen links
  3. Text with the font size of zero
  4. Using a white background with white text
  5. Linking a small part of a text

Aside from going through the backend of a website page by page, you can also use an SEO tool to analyze its entire link profile. This will give you a complete list of a website’s links, including the ones that are hidden to the naked eye.

Cloaking and Redirects

These two processes refer to similar types of black hat SEO. In simple terms, URL redirects and cloaking are when websites show search engine crawlers and users two different types of content.

Ever clicked on a website and been directed to an entirely different website? This is what Google calls a “sneaky redirect.” The objective of a sneaky redirect is to bring traffic to a specific page while having a search engine rank a website based on the content from an entirely different page. This is especially common on mobile version for a website. While a desktop version might remain the same, the mobile site could display an entirely different spam URL.

Related: 6 Tricks to Optimize Your Site for Search Engines and Real People

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Private blog networks are a way to build back links, typically through a series of blogs. They can either be used to build domain authority for each other through a web or increase the ranking of one central website. Google has been working hard to penalize private blog networks. Specifically, they can connect a network of blogs through the following information:

  1. Same IP addresses
  2. Similar or identical content
  3. Same owners
  4. Shared servers

Uncovering this type of black hat SEO is relatively simple for search engines because it’s easy to identify these types of patterns. It may seem like a simple way to build a back link profile, but PBNs are also an easy way to have your website penalized for bad practice.

Related: 10 Strategies to Drive More Back Links

Black Hat SEO Will Affect Your Google Rankings

Today, Google algorithms are some of the most sophisticated in the world. This is a good thing for entrepreneurs and qualified optimization companies working to rank for relevant keywords. With the help of a qualified optimization firm, you can build a booming online business, but for people using unethical optimization techniques, the chances of receiving a Google penalty for black hat SEO increase with every update.

Overall, the best ways to increase your search engine rankings are to create informative content and follow Google’s rules.

Microsoft warns Windows 7 users of looming end to security updates

windows-7

Microsoft has rolled out a patch that will warn Windows 7 users that security updates will soon come to an end.

The patch rolled out Wednesday warning users of the impending deadline, January 14, 2020, when the software giant will no longer roll out fixes for security flaws and vulnerabilities. The deadline comes some 10 years after Windows 7 first debuted in 2009, more than half a decade before Microsoft’s most recent operating system Windows 10 was introduced.

Microsoft’s move to stop issuing security updates is part of the company’s ongoing effort to push users to its latest software, which stands on a greater security foundation and improvements to mitigate attacks.

Starting April 18, users on Windows 7 will begin receiving warnings about the approaching cut-off.

Windows 7 still commands some 40 percent of the desktop market, according to Net Applications. With exactly 300 days before the deadline, the clock is ticking on consumer security support.

Enterprise customers have the option to pay for extended security updates until 2023.

For years, Microsoft allowed Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free to try to encourage growth and upgrades. With those incentives gone, many only have the lack of security updates to look ahead to, which will put business data and systems at risk of cyber attack.

It’s almost unheard of for Microsoft to patch end-of-life software. In 2017, Microsoft released rare security patches for Windows XP — retired three years earlier — to prevent the spread of WannaCry, a ransomware strain that piggybacked off leaked hacking tools, developed by the National Security Agency.

The ransomware outbreak knocked schools, businesses, and hospitals offline.

Windows 7’s successor, Windows 8, will continue to receive updates until January 10, 2023.

2019 Color Trends

How to Create a Neon Rainbow Photoshop Portrait Effect

2019 Color Trends

When Pantone announced its 2019 color of the year as the bright and vivacious “living coral,” designers and artists all over took notice. And since color and culture go hand in hand, we’ve also seen a few new colors with even more vibrancy now emerging on the scene.

The Impact of Color

Color has always played a huge role in our lives. We all know our favorites, and it’s not uncommon for us to share a few. Each hue transmits a particular feeling, energy and mood, and by learning more about these trends we’ll be able to explore exciting inspirations we might otherwise ignore.

So let’s take a look at a few more emerging color trends for 2019.

Gold

Minimal Black and Gold Flyer Template
Minimal Black and Gold Flyer Template

In the creative, makeup and beauty worlds, the color gold is the champion of luxury brands. Models adjust their selfies with that perfect golden-hour glow, artists attach gold leaf to their canvases, and jewelry designers go in on fantastic gold designs.

And with an ever-growing global economy, it’s not a total shock that our tastes are becoming more expensive. The color gold is, in fact, driving this trend as we find ways to exude a sense of confidence in all areas of our lives. Psychology tells us that gold can make you feel glamorous while also inviting courageous feelings of passion and wisdom. Pretty cool!

Gold Inspiration

Are you feeling a little fancy today? Try out one of these gold design tutorials. I myself have already used this color a few times this year! Not only is it applicable across a variety of projects, but it also ranks as the top searched color on both Envato Market and Envato ElementsHow’s that for gold standard?

How to Create a 3D Gold Text Effect With Photoshop Layer Styles
How to Create a 3D Gold Text Effect With Photoshop Layer Styles

Recreate the metallic sheen and luster of stunning gold letters with this text effect tutorial! Join Enrique Elicabe as he explains how to use Photoshop layer styles to achieve realistic gold textures and colors.

More Gold Tutorials

Want more gold tutorials? Jump to a few of our favorites.

Natural Greens

Natural Magazine
Natural Magazine

Artists have always been connected to nature—and therefore, the color green. Green is the color of life. It’s associated with feelings of growth, harmony, renewal, and balance. It’s the circle of life all in one color, really. We notice it throughout the seasons, and now that we’re becoming more conscious of our environmental impact, natural green colors are dominating our work spaces, creative activities, and lifestyle designs.

Natural Green Inspiration

Hunter green is one of the most common greens designers are excited by, although you’ll also find many variations. Naturally, it inspires many creative projects with nature-infused themes, but it’s also associated with wealth and finance. So you’ll find it most prevalent in design topics like stationery, websites, and more.

Create Earthy 3D Typography in Photoshop

Create Earthy 3D Typography in Photoshop
Create Earthy 3D Typography in Photoshop

You can also use these colors for a brilliant text effect! Recreate this look with stellar stock images in Adobe Photoshop. Ed Lopez shows us how in this awesome tutorial above.

More Green Tutorials

Unwind and relax with a nature-inspired tutorial. Jump to a few of our favorites.

Neon Green

Green House Logo
Green House Logo

Remember the 90s TV show, Double Dare? Now you can relive all your favorite slime fantasies with one of the boldest fashion statements to hit the catwalk: UFO green. Daring and slightly unusual, this bold color choice has already been favored by fashion giants like Gucci and Versace.

So how do you stand out when everything is already so saturated? Many looking to this bright neon trend might be trying to do just that: stand out.

Neon Green Inspiration

From the catwalks of the spring 2019 runways to the fictional paradises seen in digital art, neon green is definitely a stunner. At the forefront of what you’ll see from this trend are vibrant vacation clothes, graphics, and colorful photography. But you can also check out our tutorials to find out how to use this cool color.

How to Create a Punk-Rock Portrait in Procreate

How to Create a Punk-Rock Portrait in Procreate
How to Create a Punk-Rock Portrait in Procreate

Procreate is the go-to digital painting app for many new artists. And now you can create epic, neon-colored hair with this tutorial from Maria Dimova. Learn how to use different brush settings and layer styles for a vibrant hairstyle.

More Neon Green Tutorials

Try out this wild color out yourself! Check out these helpful tutorials.

More Neon Colors: Pink, Orange, & Purple

Neon Sign Photoshop Effect
Neon Sign Photoshop Effect

Neon green isn’t the only psychedelic color to emerge for 2019.

And last year we called it! Many fan favorites come in the form of electric neon pinks, oranges, and even some unique purple flavors. Neon colors, after all, are an ode to the eclectic retro ambience of the 1980s. Everything certainly pops with them, and if used effectively, they can bring creative, spunky energy to any piece.

Neon Color Inspiration

Fashion designers like Jeremy Scott are also going full-on construction worker with bright, neon yellow accents for jumpsuits and other quirky designs.

Need some neon inspiration? Try your hand at a bold photo effect like the one below.

How to Create a Neon Rainbow Photoshop Portrait Effect

How to Create a Neon Rainbow Photoshop Portrait Effect
How to Create a Neon Rainbow Photoshop Portrait Effect

In this tutorial, Abbey Esparza shows you how to add a punk-rock pop art vibe to your portraits in Adobe Photoshop. Learn how to create the perfect neon glow and how to bring more vibrancy and brightness to any portrait.

More Neon Color Tutorials

Excited to try your hand at these colors? Check out these amazing tutorials.

Cobalt Blue

Blue Polygon Backgrounds
Blue Polygon Backgrounds

Will we ever grow tired of blue? Blue is a color you can feel and also design with. And the cobalt version refers to the extraordinary pure blue pigment discovered by chemists at the turn of the 19th century.

Cobalt Blue Inspiration

Cobalt blue was a favorite among legends like Vincent van Gogh. It also inspires a magical energy you might find in many neon-themed designs. Try out the one below for a cool text effect.

How to Create a Neon Glow in the Dark Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Neon Glow in the Dark Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
How to Create a Neon Glow in the Dark Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This insightful Photoshop lesson comes from designer Laura Keung. Follow along as she shows you how to use layer blend modes and multiple brushes for a unique neon look.

More Cobalt Blue Tutorials

Looking for something to make with cobalt blue? Check out these tutorials.

Try These Trends

How will color guide you in 2019? Explore these trends and test out new color palettes to improve your skills.  For more help, find exciting new tutorials to try over on Tuts+.


About the Author Melody Nieves

I’m a digital artist with a love of all things Photoshop. Check out my tutorials for great tips on digital painting, photo manipulation, and photo effects on Envato Tuts+!

How to hear and delete Alexa conversations

alexa

Did you know Alexa records everything you say? Here’s how to delete it all

Navigate to the Alexa app you use to control your Alexa device. It’s probably on a mobile device you have, and the icon is a light blue with a white circle. Open up the app, and sign in using your Amazon account password if necessary. If you’ve never used your Alexa app before, or if it’s been a very long time since you’ve used it, Alexa may run you through a quick setup procedure first. This only takes about a minute or so to get through.

When you arrive at the home screen, look in the upper left-hand corner and select the icon that looks like dashed lines, or the main menu. Look down to the bottom of the menu and select the option that says Settings.

Alexa Voice History

From here, look at the top of the new menu and select Alexa Account. This will take you to yet another menu. At the bottom you should see an option that says Alexa Privacy. Select this to begin.

STEP 2: SORT AND GO THROUGH YOUR RECENT ALEXA HISTORY

Alexa Voice History Screen

The Alexa Privacy section will give you several different options for reviewing the sensitive information that Alexa has collected. You may want to spend some time here. But for this particular task, you will want to go to Review Voice History. This will open a new screen with all your recorded Alexa conversations.

At the top of the screen, you will see an option to change the Date Range. You can choose options for seeing today’s commands, yesterday’s, and so on, all the way to viewing your entire history. If you really want to weed through all your recordings, you need to choose All History. This will display all your conversations with Alexa when they occurred, and on what device.

STEP 3: DELETE YOUR HISTORY AS YOU WISH

Alexa Conversations

As you view your recordings, you will notice that some have the text of your conversations, like, “Alexa, is it gonna snow today?” but that other recordings say, “Text not available – audio was not intended for Alexa.” These recordings happen when Alexa is still listening for a second after answering your question (it’s caught me mocking it before), or if nearby conversations sounds like someone said “Alexa” but the voice assistant determines that no one was really talking to it. You can click on these recordings to play them and see what they are if you are curious.

To the left of each recording, you will see a checkbox. Select the checkbox of every recording that you want to delete. Then go up top and choose Delete Selected Recordings to remove them all.

STEP 4: DELETE YOUR WHOLE HISTORY AT ONCE IF YOU NEED TO

If you don’t want to take the time to review all your recordings, or don’t really care what they say, you can also delete them all without looking. Simply look at the top of the Review Voice History menu and select Delete All Recordings for All History.

Delete Alexa Conversations Through Alexa

You can also delete your entire history from your computer without going to the Alexa app. Simply go to Amazon’s Manage Your Content and Devices site, and make sure that you are in the Devices tab. Here you will see all the devices connect to this Amazon account. Select an Alexa device, and then look below the name of the device to see an option that says Delete Voice Recordings. Select this, and Amazon will pop up a quick warning screen. Select Delete, and you should get a message that says Your deletion request was received. All done!

FINAL NOTE ON DELETING ALEXA RECORDINGS

Deleting Alexa recordings is an important part of your privacy, and Alexa recordings have made their way into prosecution cases before, although there’s not a lot of precedence for this sort of thing so far. We understand if you don’t want your recordings existing out there in the cloud. However, there is an important caveat to deleting your messages: Alexa uses your recordings to help improve the accuracy of its listening functions. In other words, the more you talk to Alexa, the smarter it becomes at recognizing your voice and understanding what you’re saying. When you delete all your recordings, you’re getting rid of Alexa’s “memory” of your voice, so Alexa may have more trouble recognizing your commands. It’s a small price to pay, but worth noting. You can always build the recognition back up again with new voice commands.

Google Says Upgrade To Windows 10 After Critical Flaws Found In Chrome And Windows 7

windows7

GETTY

Earlier this week Google released an update for the Chrome web browser that it urged users to ensure was implemented immediately. That was because the Threat Analysis Group at Google had uncovered a critical zero-day vulnerability that was already being exploited in the wild. Now a Google security engineer, Clement Lecigne, has warned that another zero-day vulnerability that is also being exploited, impacting Windows 7 users, was being used together with the Chrome exploit to take over Windows systems. Google is now urging all Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10, as well as make sure their Chrome browser is up to date, to escape the attention of the combined threat.

The Windows zero-day is a local privilege escalation in the win32k.sys kernel driver that allows it to escape the security sandbox. The vulnerability can be used to elevate system privileges by an attacker who might then be able to execute remote malicious code. “The vulnerability is a NULL pointer dereference in win32k!MNGetpItemFromIndex when NtUserMNDragOver() system call is called under specific circumstances” Clement Lecigne said, adding “we strongly believe this vulnerability may only be exploitable on Windows 7 due to recent exploit mitigations added in newer versions of Windows. To date, we have only observed active exploitation against Windows 7 32-bit systems.”

The Google Threat Analysis Group disclosed the zero-day to Microsoft who have said they are working on a fix but, as of yet, there is no indication of how long this might take. Currently, the status of this vulnerability has to remain as a critical and unpatched one. For this reason, Google is advising users of Windows 7 should upgrade to Windows 10 and apply patches from Microsoft as soon as they become available. “Not all vulnerabilities are created equal, and many, if considered on their own, are not cause for undue concern,” says Jim O’Gorman, president of Offensive Security, who continues “if they were flagged by the organization’s security solution, they likely would not have been prioritized in patching. It’s when a group of seemingly minor flaws are chained together that they can be used to devastating effect.”

You can follow Davey on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn and find more of his stories at happygeek.com

Update Google Chrome Now

google

Google Confirms Serious Chrome Security Problem – Here’s How To Fix It

The problem explained

Although information regarding CVE-2019-5786 remains scarce currently, Satnam Narang, a senior research engineer at Tenable, says it is a “Use-After-Free (UAF) vulnerability in FileReader, an application programming interface (API) included in browsers to allow web applications to read the contents of files stored on a user’s computer.” Some further digging by Catalin Cimpanu over at ZDNet suggests that there are malicious PDF files in the wild that are being used to exploit this vulnerability. “The PDF documents would contact a remote domain with information on the users’ device –such as IP address, OS version, Chrome version, and the path of the PDF file on the user’s computer,” Cimpanu says. These could just be used for tracking purposes, but there is also the potential for more malicious behavior. The ‘use-after-free’ vulnerability is a memory corruption flaw that carries the risk of escalated privileges on a machine where a threat actor has modified data in memory through exploiting it. That’s why Google has issued the urgent update warning, as the potential is there for exploits to be crafted that could enable an attacker to remotely run arbitrary code (a remote code execution attack) whilst escaping the browser’s built-in sandbox protection.

What to do next

Luckily this is an easy problem to fix, just make sure you do it as soon as you’ve finished reading this! First, head over to the drop-down menu in Chrome (you’ll find it at the far right of the toolbar – click on the three stacked dots) and select Help|About Google Chrome. You could also type chrome://settings/help in the address bar if you prefer, which takes you to the same dialog box. This will tell you if you have the current version running or if there is an update available. To be safe from this zero-day exploit, make sure that it says you are running version 72.0.3626.121 (Official Build). If not, then Chrome should go and fetch the latest version and update your browser for you automatically.

Travis Biehn, technical strategist and research lead at Synopsys, said “Google Chrome is some of the most robustly engineered C and C++ code on the planet, the security teams working on Chrome are world-class. Despite Google’s security program, and despite their active collaboration with leading security researchers through generous bug bounty programs, it still suffers from memory corruption attacks related to the use of C and C++. Luckily for the public, Chrome ships with an effective mechanism for update and patching – one that can get a critical fix out to end users in real time.”

You can follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn and find more of my stories at happygeek.com

These are Google’ instructions:

Get a Chrome update when available

Normally updates happen in the background when you close and reopen your computer’s browser. But if you haven’t closed your browser in a while, you might see a pending update:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, look at More More.
  3. If an update is pending, the icon will be colored:
    • Green: An update’s been available for 2 days.
    • Orange: An update’s been available for 4 days.
    • Red: An update’s been available for 7 days.

To update Google Chrome:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More More.
  3. Click Update Google Chrome. If you don’t see this button, you’re on the latest version.
  4. Click Relaunch.

The browser saves your opened tabs and windows and reopens them automatically when it restarts. If you’d prefer not to restart right away, click Not now. The next time you restart your browser, the update will be applied.

Your website is a sitting duck.

Web Accessibility Online Internet Website Computer For People With Disabilities

Woman sues 175 business owners over websites (We can help you avoid this.)

Critics call it “legal extortion,” now targeting small business owners who feel they are “sitting ducks” for ADA lawsuits regarding their websites that are not accessible to some with disabilities. 

Last year, there were 2,285 ADA website lawsuits filed in federal courts across the nation, an increase of a 181 percent from 2017, according to website accessibility company UsableNet. The majority of lawsuits originate in Florida and New York.

“The attorneys are telling us, ‘You can’t fight this. There’s nothing you can do, just write them a check,'” said Ben Tundis, owner of Island Comfort Footwear in the Westfield Countryside Mall in Clearwater.

Tundis is one of 175 business owners sued by Emily Fuller, of Broward County, a visually-impaired woman holding businesses accountable if they have websites that are not ADA compliant. Fuller, in her lawsuit filed Jan. 4, claims that she was not able to use the recently launched website of Tundis’ shoe store.

Fuller uses a screen reader to use the Internet and claims the shoe store’s website lacked coding that would communicate with her software. This excluded her from shopping on the website, which is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the lawsuit.

Lawsuits like this one are being filed by the stackful, typically by one plaintiff working with a handful of lawyers who are gaining notoriety for these types of cases.

South Florida attorneys Pelayo Duran and Roderick Hannah represent Fuller. Duran tells 8 On Your Side’s Better Call Behnken that clients like Fuller are providing a needed service for society to ensure that websites are ADA compliant and accessible to all.

“It’s a very good thing for society that plaintiffs like Ms. Fuller are providing,” Duran said. “I want to make sure you understand that it’s not about attacking small businesses.”

Fuller has gone after big names, such as Sephora, Helzberg Diamonds, The Home Depot and Chick-fil-A, claiming their websites are not ADA compliant. Some of her recent cases are against the Clearwater shoe store, an activewear boutique in Orlando called Sassy Pants and Tampa Sportservice Inc, the company that runs a store that sells Tampa Bay Lightning apparel inside Amalie Arena.

In most cases, private businesses can’t be sued for damages, under the ADA, says Anastasia Protopapadakis, an ADA defense attorney with the Miami firm Gray-Robinson. Businesses are sued for attorney fees and compliance. Businesses who agree to settlements or lose their cases must pay attorney fees and agree to become ADA compliant within a set amount of time, she said.Some legal experts, and even some advocates for the disabled say plaintiff lawyers are taking advantage of businesses that don’t realize they are doing anything wrong. Instead of reaching out to the businesses and asking for compliance, they sue.

Protopapadakis calls these lawsuits, “corporate extortion” and urges business owners to take a serious look at their websites and make sure that a person with visual or hearing disabilities can use their site.

She said most businesses faced with this type of lawsuit settle the case for attorney fees and compliance. That’s because that is cheaper than litigation.

Experts say these lawsuits are typically settled for between a couple of thousand dollars and $20,000 but could cost much more if defendants chose to fight in court.  Spearhead Multimedia can help you avoid this for usually under $1000.

“Any case appealed to the 11th Circuit has not gone the defendants’ way,” Protopapadakis said.

Protopapadakis said while plaintiffs don’t receive money for damages, some do receive money in exchange for keeping settlement details confidential.

Further frustrating businesses, there are no federal regulations to give businesses a checklist of what they must do to make their websites ADA accessible. The ADA was established in 1990, before websites like we have today. One thing is clear, though, courts have ruled that most websites must be accessible under the ADA.

While there are no clear regulations pertaining to websites in the ADA, courts have recognized web accessibility standards called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), created by an international consortium of volunteers.

Some of the requirements:

  • Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software.
  • There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
  • Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard as an alternative to a mouse.

These are requirements that every website should have under the ADA, said Chris Danielsen, of the National Federation of the Blind.

Danielsen, who is blind, said he uses screen-reader software every day to access the Internet and runs into problems on a regular basis because websites lack the appropriate coding.

However, he said mass lawsuits, especially those filed by one plaintiff with an attorney, concern him. He said negotiation and education should come first. He also feels that settlements should not be confidential, so the public knows the terms and knows the plan for accessibility for each site.

“Rather than spraying businesses with a firehose of litigation, a much more thoughtful and transparent approach would be a better form of advocacy,” Danielsen said.

Danielsen recommends business owners make sure their website developers know how to make your website compatible. There are several companies that specialize in website compatibility. The National Federation of the Blind has resources on its website to help businesses. Locally, the Lighthouse for the Blind can review websites and offer guidance.

So, who must be accessible? That depends on where the business is located. In the 11th Judicial Circuit, which includes Florida, websites that are connected to a physical store must be accessible to those who are visually and hearing impaired.

Accessibility can get costly, depending on what type of website you have, and whether you do it when you first develop the website or later, said Teresa Huber, president of Get ADA Accessible, which focuses on website accessibility. We can make your site accessible to those with disabilities for less than you think. Visit our Website Accessibility Facebook page for more details.

She said a simple, 10-page website would cost about $1,600 for a firm like hers to audit and identify accessibility issues. The cost of fixing the website would depend on deficiencies, she said. Spearhead Multimedia uses a different approach for less than $100, usually around $500. Get your estimate today.

One small business recently sued by Emily Fuller is Sassy Pants Active Wear Boutique in Orlando. Owner Donna Anthony says she hasn’t been served the lawsuit yet, but she is concerned.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought a website would have to have accommodations,” Anthony said. “My builder knew about ADA compliance for my physical location. My web developer did not.” At Spearhead Multimedia, we’re on the forefront of WCAG 2.1 AA and will help you make your website accessible to those with disabilities. Contact us today, it’s less expensive than you think.

Give Google’s Chrome browser a major speed boost with one click

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With more than 64% of the global market as of last month, Google’s Chrome browser is by far the most popular desktop web browser by a massive margin. The next closest is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and its global market share totalled less than 11% in December 2018. Chrome is the browser of choice for so many reasons, not the least of which are things like simplicity and speed. When it comes to speed though, things aren’t always straightforward. Chrome is typically lightning fast when loading webpages, but your browser speed can really take a hit when there are tons of tabs open. I know I pretty much always have tons of tabs open.

Here’s the explanation and download link:

How it works
Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

When your tabs are in the OneTab list, you will save up to 95% of memory because you will have reduced the number of tabs open in Google Chrome.

Privacy assurance
We take your privacy seriously. Your tab URLs are never transmitted or disclosed to either the OneTab developers or any other party, and icons for tab URL domains are generated by Google. The only exception to this is if you intentionally click on our ‘share as a web page’ feature that allows you to upload your list of tabs into a web page in order to share them with others. Tabs are never shared unless you specifically use the ‘share as a web page’ button.

How do you make money?
OneTab is free of charge and is not designed to make money. It was created because we badly *needed* it for our own use, and we wanted to share it with the world.

Additional Benefits
Depending on how many scripts are running inside your tabs, moving them to OneTab can also speed up your computer by reducing the CPU load. We have also had reports that this also contributes to your computer resuming from sleep more quickly.

More Features
OneTab lets you easily export and import your tabs as a list of URLs. You can also create a web page from your list of tabs, so that you can easily share your tabs with other people, other computers, or with your smartphone or tablet.

You can drag and drop tabs in your OneTab list to reorder them. You can also hold down the Ctrl or Cmd key while restoring tabs and they will remain in your OneTab list (meaning you can use OneTab as a way of quickly launching a set of commonly used tabs). OneTab supports retina displays. Note that OneTab is designed to leave in place any ‘pinned’ tabs you have.

You will not lose your list of tabs if you accidentally close the OneTab window, if your browser crashes, or if restart your computer.

2018 Update: We’ve been working like crazy to make OneTab much much better – including implementing lots of your feature suggestions. We’re full time on it now and have great momentum. Thank you for all of your thoughtful feedback, please keep it coming.

Download One Tab for free

How will you engage with your customers in 2019?

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At Spearhead Multimedia, we’ve been doing email marketing for over 20 years and it continues to hold the top spot for marketing to your best salespeople, your very own customers.

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools for small businesses. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the United States.

This is because email marketing is easy to manage, gives you full control, and allows you to establish direct contact with your customers.

Not convinced on email marketing? See these 6 reasons why building an email list is so important in 2019.

It’s important to understand that a lot of your success with email marketing depends entirely on the email marketing software you choose because they are responsible for making sure that your emails actually get delivered.

If you aren’t careful, then you will end up paying a lot more money for fewer features and terrible deliverability (which causes you to lose even more money).

A good email marketing service enables you to create highly engaging emails. It also allows you to manage your contacts, segment users into groups, and track the performance of your email campaigns.

Most importantly, a good email marketing service ensures that your emails do not end up in the spam folder.

We at Spearhead Multimedia recommend Constant Contact.  We’ve been creating successful email campaigns for clients and ourselves since 1999.
We have watched them respond to changing trends and customer’s needs.  They are a top tier email marketing company and have one of the highest email success rates in the industry.constant-contact-logo

Constant Contact is one of the largest and fastest growing email marketing services in the world. It is also the easiest to use and beginner friendly email marketing service.

You can easily manage your email lists, contacts, email templates, marketing calendar, and more.  At Spearhead Multimedia, most of our clients have us help collect and sort their contacts, create branded emails and provide the reporting, all done through Constant Contact.

Your account provides access to easy tracking and reporting, built-in social media sharing tools, free image library, list segmentation, Facebook ads integration, and a powerful eCommerce integration for Shopify stores. We will set up automated opt-in forms on your website to help build your customer list.

Their Email Plus accounts also come with powerful features like email automation, surveys & polls, coupons, online donations, and subject line A/B testing to maximize your open rate.

Constant Contact offers unmatched support with live chat, phone calls, email, community support, and a vast library of helpful resources.

Aside from online training, they also offer in-person live seminars across the United States. This allows small businesses to quickly learn the basics of email marketing and start using it to grow their business like a pro.

For all the reasons above, we rate and exclusively use Constant Contact the best email marketing service for small businesses.

Constant Contact has a 60-day free trial (no credit card required). After that their pricing starts as low as $20/month.

Prepay six or 12 months and save up to 15%. Nonprofit organizations can prepay and save up to 30%.

We’re confident you’ll like Constant Contact Email Marketing. But if you don’t, and you decide to close your account within 30 days of signing up, they’ll refund 100% of your payment. View Terms & Conditions

 

 

From an article by Syed Balkhi.